RPA Statement: Draft Environmental Impact Statement for TC
RPA Statement: FRA's Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dallas - Houston High-Speed Rail
February 7, 2018
The Honorable D. Reyes, III
Acting Deputy Administrator
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Re: Draft Environmental Impact Statement the Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Project
Dear Deputy Administrator Reyes,
The Rail Passengers Association (RPA) is writing you on behalf of our thousands of Texas members, and all 28,000 members nationwide, to voice support for Texas Central's (TC) Houston – Dallas high-speed rail corridor project. As the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) prepares the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this transformative project, we hope that you’ll consider the full breadth and width of benefits to the people of Texas, Americans at large, the regional passenger rail network, and the U.S. economy.
Nearly 50,000 Texans currently travel between Dallas and Houston at least once a week. The 240-mile trek along Interstate-45 currently takes four hours. With Texas’ population rapidly growing, that drive-time will grow to 6.5 hours by 2035. Texas’ population is expected to double by the year 2050, further exacerbating problems. TC’s service will connect Dallas and Houston with frequent, 200mph service, cutting the trip-time to 90 minutes.
TC’s Houston – Dallas rail service will also close a significant gap in the regional rail network, directly connecting Oklahoma City to Houston via Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, and Dallas to New Orleans via Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, providing greater connectivity throughout the south-central U.S. while linking cities that play a vital role in domestic energy production.
Beyond its direct transportation impacts, the TC project—backed entirely by private sector capital—is exactly the kind of innovative infrastructure venture the Trump Administration has called for. The project will inject an estimated $36 billion into the Texas economy during the next 25 years into, creating 40,000 construction jobs over the life of the project, and 1,000 permanent jobs in operations and maintenance. The railroad will also pay $2.5 billion in state, county, and school taxes over that same period.
In consideration of the specific alignments discussed within the EIS, RPA would emphasize the following points:
- RPA supports TC’s proposed Houston station at the Northwest Mall site, but with the recognition that it needs to be connected to the rest of the city through convenient, frequent, reliable transit, preferably light rail, to major business centers. These business centers include Downtown, Uptown/Galleria, and the Energy Corridor. These transit connections will facilitate the movement of passengers out of the station area while minimizing the impact of additional traffic volume on the surrounding neighborhoods, which already suffer an overloaded highway network.
- The transit connections between TC and downtown must include a stop at the Amtrak station on Washington Avenue. This direct transit link will facilitate connections between Amtrak’s National Network and TC’s Dallas – Houston, expanding the project’s benefits to include passengers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and beyond.
Thank you for your consideration of RPA’s comments.
Jim Mathews, President and CEO
Rail Passengers Association